FSHS girls fall to Maize in semifinals of Firebirds Winter Classic
photo by: Carter Gaskins
By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, Free State’s girls basketball team was neck and neck with Maize.
However, because of a 10-point run to start the third quarter, Maize (No. 3 in 5A) took advantage of turnovers and dealt the Firebirds a 54-29 loss.
“We went in thinking we had a pretty good chance to play well, and we did for a half,” Free State coach Ted Juneau said. “We just never offensively got into any sort of rhythm. We dribbled the ball around, we didn’t know what anyone else was going to do and it just gives us all kinds of trouble because we’re just standing around.”
Free State (4-7) trailed by just one basket after one quarter, and stepped up defensively in the second period to fight for a lead in its home tournament. Joy Nunoo leaped high to grab a big defensive rebound two minutes into the second quarter, and Shannon Clarke made her first of two blocks later in the period.
Senior Sam Lawrence led the field with a game-high 17 points. Lawrence netted five 3-pointers, as the Firebirds strived to create open looks for her throughout the night.
“I told the kids after the game, ‘we’ve got to make asserted efforts to find her and get her the ball,” Juneau said. “They have great confidence in her, but sometimes the kids don’t get her the ball. She needs to shoot the ball more, obviously.”
Lawrence was the only Firebird to net more than one basket from the field. Clarke added 3 points from the charity stripe after being fouled four times on the night.
Maize (11-1) shot 50 percent from the field with three girls netting double digits. The Eagles opened up the second half with a 10-0 run, and the Firebirds couldn’t adjust even after two timeouts.
Lilliana Keathley, Hope Wheeler-Halstead and Nyasha McVay gave solid defensive looks to slow down the Eagles in the fourth quarter, filling in for Caely Kesten, who sustained an injury in the second half.
With the loss, Free State will face Leavenworth in the third place game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve got to come out and play, be ready to play, and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Juneau said. “We don’t have many games in high school, you got to use that opportunity to go out and play your best. I am sure the girls will bounce back and we’ll be fine tomorrow.”
Cassandra Onwugbufor 1-4 3-4 5, Sydney Holmes 5-8 0-0 13, Halie Jones 3-5 2-2 9, Alexis Cuathon 5-11 0-0 11, Emily Laham 4-5 2-3 10, Kaylee Wilcox 1-4 0-0 2, Baylee Miller 1-2 2-4 4, Joscelyn Espinoza 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-41 7-10 54.
Free State (29)
Evy Harrell 1-5 0-1 2, Shannon Clarke 1-11 3-8 5, Sam Lawrence 6-11 0-0 17, Caely kesten 1-2 0-0 2, Haley Hippe 0-3 1-2 1, Joy Nunoo 1-2 0-0 2, Lilliana Keathley 0-0 0-0 0, Hope Wheeler-Halstead 0-0 0-0 0, Nysha McVay 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-34 4-11 29.
Maize 12 16 17 9 – 54
Free State 11 8 4 6 – 29
3-point field goals: Free State 5-14 (Lawrence 5), Maize 7-19 (Holmes 3, Laham 2, Cuathon, Jones). Fouled Out: Harrell (0.9 4Q). Turnovers: Maize 10, Free State 13.